Shrugging off success like any hero,
he dreams of scars and sympathy,
the cheek gash that smiles bashfully
at mouths cooing tiny zeroes of compassion.

Improving failure with calibrated valor,
his blameless leap and heart-break near-miss
bring stadiums to lamentation, his applause.

But he only sips the elixir of minor sorrow,
fearing the slam of true calamity
and the scorch of grief,
this careful half a Christ
who loves the swooning comfort of the Pietà
but dreads the resurrection and the life.

Richard Lourie

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 13 Number 2, on page 46
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